An analysis by IHS Markit, with global headquarters in London, says growth in polyethylene (PE) demand is being met with new market pressures, such as a rise in consumer expectations around sustainability and tightening environmental regulations in key growth markets such as China, that threaten the future of plastics demand growth.
“As more consumers in developing countries such as China and India increase their spending power and join the global economy, we are witnessing truly phenomenal growth in demand for the key plastics that are critical to so many of the products and life essentials we rely on every day, such as cellphones, computers, food and beverage packaging, clothes, cars and even life-saving medical devices,” says Nick Vafiadis, the Houston-based vice president of plastics for IHS Markit. “That consumption growth, though, comes with greater expectations and responsibility, both for plastics producers and consumers.”
He continues, “We at IHS Markit are focused on how producers and consumers can work together to address the issues of sustainability and management of plastics recycling, reuse or waste reduction. This issue is top of mind for plastics industry leaders.”
Addressing sustainability while managing increasing demand and environmental regulations will be key topics of discussion at the PEPP 2018: Polyethylene and Polypropylene Chain Global Technology and Business Forum, June 26-28, in Dusseldorf, Germany, according to IHS Markit, which is organizing the event. Chemical and plastics industry leaders representing the plastics value chain—resin producers, processors, brand owners and those involved in recycling and reuse—will address the issue of sustainability during the event. On the agenda are policy makers and influencers, including the World Plastics Council and PlasticsEurope; resin producers Borealis, LyondellBasell and SABIC; major converters, including Amcor and Constantia; as well as brand owners, including the Coca-Cola Co. and Nestlé S.A.
“In my conversations with the leaders of plastics resins producers and manufacturers, it is clear the plastics industry understands the need to be very proactive in embracing sustainability across the entire supply chain,” Vafiadis says. “This includes leading stakeholder discussions and finding ways to partner with retailers, consumers, recyclers and even with designers to plan for second-life uses for products after they are initially consumed. We are excited to be in Germany for this discussion since Europe leads the world in sustainability innovation.”
By 2022, global PE demand is expected to reach 120 million metric tons annually, while global demand for polypropylene (PP) is expected to be just under 90 million metric tons. Much of that growth is being driven by China, IHS says, which accounts for about 60 percent of new global plastics demand growth. China’s ban on importing plastic scrap for recycling plus the global growth of online shopping trends are helping increase demand for virgin plastics material, according to the global business information provider.
At the PEPP Forum, Jim Seward, chairman of the World Plastics Council and vice president of joint ventures and international business at LyondellBasell, examines the role of plastics in the 21st century. Karl Foerster, executive director of PlasticsEurope, addresses increasing environmental sustainability requirements, including the new European policy to move to 55 percent recycled content by 2025, and how those changes will affect the plastics industry.
“As announcements of additional polyolefins capacity and images of plastic pollution share the headlines globally, the need for a differentiated and sustainable plastic industry is emerging,” Vafiadis says. “The transition from a linear (take-make-dispose) economy to a circular economy (recover-innovate-reuse) represents a shift to ensure industry sustainability and value creation.”
Andrea Landuzzi, global marketing director, technology solutions-polymer additives for Solvay, discusses examples of how purpose-driven product development that leverages high-performance stabilizers can enable the polyolefins industry to become more economically and ecologically sustainable.
Hartmut Siebert, technical marketing manager/packaging for Clariant Plastics & Coatings AG, and Sander Koster, group leader for packaging food safety at Nestlé S.A., discuss safety in food packaging, while Izabela Lomacka, global procurement director, closures, labels and shrink film, for the Coca-Cola Co.’s Cross-Enterprise Procurement Group, discusses consumer packaging trends and sustainability.
Catherine Malchaire, technical sales manager, Europe, business unit polymer stabilizers at Songwon International AG, looks at this dichotomy between consumer demands and market realities.
Enrico Dolce, product development and sales manager, Fater AHP Recycling Business Unit discusses turning waste into usable raw materials.
“The issue of sustainability is perhaps the most critical influencer for the plastics industry as a whole, both today and in the future,” Vafiadis says. “Many communities across the globe are exploring bans on plastic bags, but marine waste is an issue that the plastics industry must take a leadership role in addressing because the industry has learned it needs a cooperative, multiorganizational approach that brings all the stakeholders together to solve such a very complex problem. Based on our discussions with industry leaders, that challenge is something they are committed to addressing, and it will be the overarching focus of our PEPP 2018 Business Forum.”
To register for PEPP 2018, visit https://ihsmarkit.com/events/pepp-2018/registration-fees.html.
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